Provenance variations in the Late Paleozoic accretionary complex of central Chile as indicated by detrital zircons

F. Hervé*, M. Calderón, C. M. Fanning, R. J. Pankhurst, E. Godoy

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    114 Citations (Scopus)


    We present detrital zircon U. Pb SHRIMP age patterns for the central segment (34-42°S) of an extensive accretionary complex along coastal Chile together with ages for some relevant igneous rocks. The complex consists of a basally accreted high pressure/low temperature Western Series outboard of a frontally accreted Eastern Series that was overprinted by high temperature/low pressure metamorphism. Eleven new SHRIMP detrital zircon age patterns have been obtained for meta-turbidites from the central (34-42°S) segment of the accretionary complex, four from previously undated metamorphic complexes and associated intrusive rocks from the main Andean cordillera, and three from igneous rocks in Argentina that were considered as possible sediment source areas. There are no Mesozoic detrital zircons in the accretionary rocks. Early Paleozoic zircons are an essential component of the provenance, and Grenville-age zircons and isolated grains as old as 3. Ga occur in most rocks, although much less commonly in the Western Series of the southern sector. In the northernmost sector (34-38°30'S) Proterozoic zircon grains constitute more than 50% of the detrital spectra, in contrast with less than 10% in the southern sector (39-42°S). The youngest igneous detrital zircons in both the northern Western (307. Ma) and Eastern Series (345. Ma) are considered to closely date sedimentation of the protoliths. Both oxygen and Lu. Hf isotopic analyses of a selection of Permian to Neoproterozoic detrital zircon grains indicate that the respective igneous source rocks had significant crustal contributions. The results suggest that Early Paleozoic orogenic belts (Pampean and Famatinian) containing material recycled from cratonic areas of South America supplied detritus to this part of the paleo-Pacific coast. In contrast, in the southern exposures of the Western Series studied here, Permian detrital zircons (253-295. Ma) dominate, indicating much younger deposition. The northern sector has scarce Early to Middle Devonian detrital zircons, prominent south of 39°S. The sedimentary protolith of the northern sector was probably deposited in a passive margin setting starved of Devonian (Achalian) detritus by a topographic barrier formed by the Precordillera, and possibly Chilenia, terranes. Devonian subduction-related metamorphic and plutonic rocks developed south of 39°S, beyond the possible southern limit of Chilenia, where sedimentation of accretionary rocks continued until Permian times.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1122-1135
    Number of pages14
    JournalGondwana Research
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


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